• Covid-19 – click here for the latest updates from Forum Events & Media Group Ltd

Contact Centre Summit | Forum Events Contact Centre Summit | Forum Events Contact Centre Summit | Forum Events Contact Centre Summit | Forum Events Contact Centre Summit | Forum Events

Posts Tagged :


Semafone reshuffles pack ahead of US expansion

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Semafone has appointed Gary E. Barnett to the role of CEO, replacing Tim Critchley who had been in the position since 2009, as the company prepares to expand its presence in the U.S. market.

Barnett is recognised as an authority on contact center (CC) and unified communications (UC) technologies and solutions. With a 30-year track record of delivering leadership and stakeholder value in senior leadership roles at both Avaya and Aspect Software, he was recognised by the contact center industry with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have someone of Gary Barnett’s calibre and experience to lead Semafone into the future,” said David Sear, Semafone’s chairman. “Barnett is the perfect fit with his deep knowledge and market expertise as a pioneer of contact center technologies. It’s an exciting and pivotal time in Semafone’s development as the company looks to further expand into the U.S. market and Barnett will provide the leadership needed to successfully take advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead.”

“I am privileged to have the opportunity to bring my passion for contact center compliance and extensive market experience to the CEO role at Semafone,” said Barnett.

“Working closely with Semafone, its customers and partners in my previous role, I’ve developed a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities that truly matter most. I am thrilled to begin executing on those opportunities, address the industry’s challenges, and drive Semafone to innovate and evolve with faster, frictionless cloud technology – further consolidating the company as the world’s most trusted solution for protecting telephone-based card data.”

Speaking on behalf of the board, Sear said: “Tim Critchley has done an amazing job building Semafone from the ground up and overseeing our entry into the U.S. market. We wish him further success as he pursues new opportunities.”

Semafone predicts Brexit boom and a Bitcoin bounce for 2019

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Semafone is taking an optimistic view of the outlook for the technology industry in 2019.

CEO Tim Critchley, Global Solutions Director Ben Rafferty and Head of Information Security Shane Lewis, share their top tech predictions for this year:

1)     Brexit – the voice of the tech sector will prevail

Our view is that the pre-Brexit fog will lift. The UK Government will finally implement a forward-thinking immigration policy that will give tech companies access to the skills they need to grow (come on Mr Javid – you know it makes sense!). Our money is on a 12-month delay to article 50, but we refuse to be downbeat and believe that we will find a way past the current impasse and that the UK tech sector will move on to bigger and better things in 2019.

2)     There will be no 4% fine – yet

We’ve seen the number of breaches and incidents being reported to the ICO go up since GDPR, but we’ve got at least another year before we see the full 4% imposed on a major brand. Companies have taken heed of the regulation and are – on the whole – doing all they can to be compliant. In the UK, the ICO will therefore continue to work with brands, using carrot rather than stick. Fines will be imposed, but they won’t be anything like 4% of turnover.

3)     Cryptocurrencies will stand their ground

In spite of the widespread jeers at the over-hyping of blockchain and the dramatic descent of the value of Bitcoin, cryptocurrencies aren’t going away any time soon. While Goldman Sachs may have put its digital currency trading plans on ice, it hasn’t scrapped them altogether and our view is that we’ll see cryptocurrencies find their place in society before too long. This may not be the year in which the practical application for Blockchain is finally nailed, but we might just see Bitcoin pull off another bounce.

4)     After the CCPA in the US, other states will follow

The California Consumer Privacy Act officially comes into force on 1 January 2020, so we’ll see companies across the pond racing to get to grips with this regulation next year. We’ll also see a number of other states following suit. California is a trend setter when it comes to data protection regulations, so we’ll see other states such as Massachusetts, Illinois and New York looking to draft their own form of the regulation soon.

5)     In the race to modernise, vulnerabilities will be exploited

In the increasingly flooded technology market, companies are attempting to get their new solutions on the shelf as quickly as possible to stay competitive. However, in this race to modernise, companies are bypassing security controls and requirements. Glaring vulnerabilities are making these new technologies, such as IoT, a target for hackers, and we’ll see some serious hacking of these devices in 2019. Companies that offer products to consumers without having considered privacy and security by design, means that peoples’ homes will be at risk. With WiFi enabled kettles, heating systems and more with no security, hackers could easily find a way into the network through these devices. DDoS attacks on IoT devices will therefore be increasing even more over the next year.

6)     Old hacking techniques will thrive

While new technologies are leaving doors wide open for hackers, 2019 will also see the age-old hacking techniques, such as ransomware and phishing, making serious headway this year. Sadly, it is smaller organisations, armed with fewer resources to protect themselves, that are becoming the prime targets. Even those companies who do perform security awareness training are still seeing 20 per cent of staff fall for basic phishing campaigns, so organisations need to make this a top priority in 2019.

Tim Critchley, CEO, added: “With so much technological advancement happening so quickly, we’ll see hackers working harder than ever in 2019, using both old and new techniques. However, demand for our services has never been higher and we see so many of our customers now investing in good data practices that we can only be optimistic about the future – ‘security’ seems finally to be on the agenda in the right way for a lot of large and small organisations who are more aware of the dangers. There are new US regulations on the horizon and it’s going to be a great year ahead for the tech sector, so we can expect to see companies putting up a robust defence.”

12 point guide for contact centres struggling with GDPR

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Semafone has created a guide for contact centres to help them comply with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The guide was compiled with the help of four industry experts specialising in data security, GDPR, and contact centre technology and offers practical advice summarised in a 12 step path to compliance.

Semafone cites research from TrustArc that says only 21% of UK organisations believe they are GDPR compliant, despite the regulation coming into effect in May. Other EU countries are further ahead with 27% of businesses stating they are GDPR compliant, but the numbers are even lower in the US (12%), where companies may not have realised the regulation can apply to them as well.

Tim Critchley, CEO of Semafone, said: “Contact centres are under extreme scrutiny when it comes to GDPR. Not only do they handle huge amounts of personal information, but they also have to take into account factors such as call recording and payment handling, which can present serious and complex challenges when it comes to data protection. In addition, contact centres are staffed by agents who themselves need to be protected under the terms of GDPR. This guide helps contact centres to better understand and meet these challenges.”

The full guide can be downloaded here.

Contributors to the report include:

Simon Martindill, Marketing Director, 360 Solutions

Patrick Cooper, Independent Consultant specialising in data and EU GDPR.

Ben Rafferty, Global Solutions Director, Semafone

Shane Lewis, Information Security Manager, Semafone

Outdated practices at call centres increasing security risks

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

A new survey by Semafone has revealed that 70% of contact centres require customers to read sensitive data aloud, increasing risks and compromising security.

Drawing responses from more than 500 agents across industries around the globe, the survey shows that a concerning number of contact centres rely on outdated, risky practices for customer interaction, data collection and fraud prevention. This exposes organisations to inside and outside security threats, and puts sensitive customer information at risk.

 Key survey findings

Contact centres still use data collection and customer interaction practices that create opportunities for agent fraud and leave data vulnerable to a breach.

  • 72 per cent of agents who collect credit/debit card information over the phone require customers to read numbers aloud, despite the readily available technologies that secure voice transactions
  • 30 per cent reported that they have access to payment card information even when not on the phone with customers

Agents are experiencing and witnessing breach attempts from both insiders and outsiders, yet many do nothing to mitigate the risks.

  • 7 per cent of agents admitted that someone inside their organisation has asked them to access or share customers’ payment card information or other sensitive data
  • 4 per cent said the same about someone outside their organisation
  • 9 per cent said they personally know someone who has unlawfully accessed or shared customers’ payment card information
  • 42 per cent of those approached said they did not report the situation to either management or the authorities
  • These percentages may seem small, but just one successful breach attempt could cost an organisation an average of £2.5 million, according to IBM’s 2017 Cost of a Data Breach Study

Contact centres aren’t doing enough to protect customer data and prevent fraud, while current practices contribute to low employee morale and high turnover.

  • 79 per cent of agents are not allowed to have cell phones at their work station
  • 38 per cent are not allowed paper or pens at their work station
  • 31 per cent are not allowed personal items or bags at their work station
  • 28 per cent must pass through a security check before entering or leaving work
  • 26 per cent work in a contact centre “clean room,” which prohibits any personal items and recording devices of any kind.

Industry trends are apparent.

  • 35 per cent of agents in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry have access to customer information when they aren’t on the line with them; 11 per cent have been approached to share customer information
  • The findings pertaining to BPO emphasises the increased risks created by outsourcing and offshoring. In fact, research shows that poor outsourcing decisions cause 63 per cent of data breaches, so strong data security is vital for those with such business models.

“Our survey confirms that many contact centres are still using inadequate practices when capturing, processing and storing payment card data and other personally identifiable information (PII),” said Tim Critchley, Semafone CEO. “When a single data breach can cost a company millions, traditional security controls like clean rooms and check points are not enough. The only way to truly protect sensitive data is to remove it from the business infrastructure completely.”

Critchley continued: “Although just four and seven per cent of survey participants had been approached by outsiders and insiders respectively, these are alarming numbers when extrapolated to the greater contact centre agent population. While the majority of agents are good, honest people, it takes just one malicious person to expose sensitive data and ruin a business’ reputation. Contact centres need to act now—otherwise, they are just sitting around, waiting to be breached.”

To address and simplify data security, Semafone urges organisations to descope their contact centres from Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliance. This is achievable by adopting dual-tone multi-frequency (DTMF) masking technologies, which allow customers to enter payment card information and other PII directly into the telephone keypad. DTMF tones are masked with flat tones so they are not captured on call recordings, and neither the agent nor an eavesdropper can decipher the numbers. The agent is also able to remain on the line in full voice conversation with the customer, which ensures better customer service. The sensitive data is then sent straight to the appropriate third party, such as the payment processor, bypassing the contact centre’s infrastructure altogether.

To download the full report, click here

To download the infographic, click here